ZANU PF affiliate, Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz) has reportedly hijacked the voters roll inspection exercise by demanding proof of ruling party membership from those trying to check for their names.
Faz is a registered private voluntary organisation which claims to champion “door-to-door intimate voter contact” but reports suggest that it has a close working relationship with members of the central intelligence organisation (CIO).
On its website, Faz says its application to become an associate of Zanu PF was still pending, but the ruling party’s political commissar Mike Bimha told NewsDay yesterday that the group was an affiliate.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) opened its voters roll inspection exercise on Saturday and Faz members were manning several polling stations, mostly in the rural areas which resulted in some voters failing to check for their names.
Inspections were suspended at some centres in Shurugwi after the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) protested the presence of Faz members at the polling stations.
At Sungano Motel polling station in Ward 12, Shurugwi North Constituency, police had to be called to intervene after FAZ members refused to vacate the polling stations.
“We discovered at various centres during our assessment of the inspection exercise that Faz members were giving some orders to the registered voters who had pitched up for inspection,” CCC Shurugwi North Constituency aspiring candidate Bulle Madzitire said.
“They were making inquiries on whether the registered voter was in the Zanu PF cell register or not. Those who knew that they were not in the Zanu PF register left the poling centres before inspecting their names. We reported the matter to the police, who later ordered the Faz members to leave the polling stations. This was the situation at many polling stations in the area.”
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Zec chief elections officer Utloile Silaigwana said he had not yet received a report on the incident.
“I am not aware of the incident,” Silaigwana said.
“But I guess the police are handling the case if they were notified.”
Bimha also said he was not aware of what Faz was doing.
“I cannot speak on behalf of Faz,” Bimha said.
“They are a Zanu PF affiliate but they have their own leadership.”
However, a Zanu PF internal memo seen by NewsDay shows that the ruling party ordered its grassroots structures to ensure that every member who appeared in the party cell registers was in the voters roll during the inspection exercise.
Faz and Heritage Trust, another Zanu PF-affiliated non-governmental organisation, were roped in as “constituency specialists” to facilitate the inspection.
In a letter dated May 19, 2023 copied to Zanu PF vice-president Kembo Mohadi, chairperson Oppah Muchinguri, secretary for administration Obert Mpofu and spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa, Bimha directed party provincial chairpersons to ensure that all party members who appeared in cell registers, were registered as voters with the help of Faz and Heritage Trust.
Faz and Heritage Trust, which is reportedly linked to the CIO and Military Intelligence Corps, ran the party’s recent primary elections.
“It is very critical that data capture is done diligently for this programme. Constituency experts Faz and the Heritage Trust Constituency co-ordinators will monitor and capture data at each polling station as well as submit daily reports to the command centres,” Bimha wrote in the memo.
The voters roll inspection exercise failed to take off in some areas on Saturday as scheduled after Zec could not avail transport for the exercise.